We read about the rich and famous whose lives seem fascinating because on a whim they pick up and travel the globe, are seen at fancy restaurants, and attend glitzy events. I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t live that life, do you?
In most cases we are living a fairly routine life. We go to work or stay home to take care of our families, but daily life seems like a routine. It’s often too busy for it to be boring, but it’s a bit on the predictable side…that is until you were diagnosed with a chronic or other life-altering illness.
Following a diagnosis life is anything but routine. At the beginning you’re often overwhelmed with medical appointments because a baseline has to be established and treatment begins. Once that passes the routine sets in just as it did before but it may feel more complicated or burdensome…it’s certainly not fun.
It’s not a surprise to hear people tell me they’re feeling like the walls are closing in because they feel as if the scope of their lives seems a bit smaller. Due to side effects from treatment of medication or physical limitations some of the activities you engaged in previous to the diagnosis may have to be put on hold. so with your world feeling smaller and very routine, how do you get the spark back in your life when every day seems the same?
Years ago I spent a lot of time at San Francisco Zen Center and Green Gulch Farm, both Buddhist practice communities. Although I wasn’t a Buddhist, being immersed in Buddhist philosophy you can’t help but integrate some of it into your own life. I was working about 40 miles from home and every day seemed to be the same. Once I got to work the day was great, but the drive, especially in California freeway traffic was rough.
One of my friends recommended that I approach my trip with a beginner’s mind. Every day when I drove to work I was engaged and encouraged to take the trip as if it were the first time I was driving the trek. I was instructed to get in my car and find something new on the drive every day making it a new experience.
Fast forward to today and our discussion about making every day life with a health challenge new…what can you do to approach your day with a beginner’s mind? Fortunately, the medical facility I go to for care buys a lot of art. I make a point of seeking out the art pieces and taking in the beauty the artist put forth and shared with the world. I’ve turned the office staff and medical team from opponents to team mates so when I go in we talk about other things than my health. I’ve taken the journey with a medical assistant as she got her LPN degree. I’ve discussed quality of life issues with my doctor who then decided to retire and move from the cold of Colorado to the warmth of Phoenix. It changed my view of my illness and treatment and began to expand my world
When every day seems the same it’s important, and yes it takes practice, to approach each day with fresh eyes. I mentioned I’m working in Buffalo, NY for a a few months and when I got up this morning the first thing I heard was the snow blower. Yes another day in Buffalo and another day in snow. My co-worker said something the other day that caught me off guard, she said, “I’m glad it’s snowing because it covers up the ugly snow.” The new snow, even though I know the ugly snow is underneath, brings a clean slate to my day.